India Revisited - Malda to Calcutta PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Monday, 20 April 2009 10:38
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Day 51: Saturday 11th November - Malda to Calcutta


The last part of our journey across Northern India started as farcical as yesterdays ended. Breakfast was scheduled for 7.00am but the hotel management insisted on serving it at 8.00am even though some had been sitting in the dining room for over an hour waiting very impatiently. Once it started it took over one hour to serve a breakfast of cornflakes and coffee and it only arrived when the Arsenal fan jumped up and stormed into the kitchen shouting 'how fucking long does it take to put cornflakes in a bowl? 'I want them fucking now'. When they did arrive, ten minutes later, there was no milk and no spoons to eat it or sugar to put on them.

The management also had the knack of increasing the price of things. My telephone bill went from a few hundred rupees to fourteen hundred. Once on the bus we couldn't get out of the grounds until everyone were forced to disembark and have their breakfast bills checked again. By this time poor old Leighton was pulling his hair out and shouting 'get me out of India'. This of course was a three star hotel.

The last bit of the long trek across this poor wretched country was no better with every conceivable obstacle: rickshaws, pot holes deep enough to destroy suspensions, diversions, a total lack of signs and just to make the journey longer a massive traffic jam created by a procession to celebrate the last night of Divali which just happened to coincide with a demonstration by the communist party and trade unions as we entered the outskirts of Calcutta.

Strangely enough the procession and demo made our entrance into this famous city more interesting with music, lights and placards demanding better pay etc. Things took a turn for the worse once we turned of the main central area of shops, lights and affluence and entered the seediest of areas and our last hotel before leaving India probably for good. It's sad that few on the bus have expressed a desire to return to India. The Hotel Himalaya did not help it was by far the worse hotel yet with no bar, an alcohol ban and unpleasant seedy rooms with tatty linen, cockroaches in the bathrooms and at least one big fat rat that chased the lads down our corridor. Not only did the hotel not have beer but this area had no bars or restaurants and once outside you could see why. Calcutta must have some of the cheapest hotels in the world and our friends back in London booked us into probably the cheapest in the city. What made this final administrative insult even worse was it totally ruined the groups plan to have a final big party with JaenPol and Marcus who were heading back tomorrow with the bus. This was the most upset I have seen Jaenpol and I felt embarrassed and ashamed that such an individual effort should be rewarded like this. I and the others were now forced to say thanks and goodbye to the man who had driven us single handedly 17,000 kilometres in the car park at the airport. This was without doubt the lowest point of the whole trip and one I will remember for its sadness and injustice. I can safely say that most people are now pissed off with Ozbus, some vowing not to use it any further.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 May 2010 10:51